Guidance for Direct Access clients
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) allows certain classes of people to make a claim on the estate of a deceased person on the basis that they have not made “Reasonable financial provision” for the claimant. This is irrespective of whether the deceased left a Will or died intestate (without a Will).
There is a very strict time limit to such claims. A claim should be made within 6 months of the Grant of Representation to the deceased’s estate. Although there is provision under s4 of the 1975 Act for this time limit to be extended, you must not delay and must seek legal advice as soon as possible. Persuading the Court to allow a claim after the 6 months has elapsed is costly and may fail.
The classes of people who are eligible to make a claim are:
The spouse or civil partner of the deceased
A former spouse or civil partner of the deceased who has not remarried or not entered into a further civil partnership,
A child of the deceased,
A step-child of the deceased whether by marriage/civil partnership of the deceased or in relation to a family in which the deceased at any time stood in the role of parent and was treated by the deceased as a child of the family,
Any person who immediately before the death of the deceased was being maintained wholly or partly by the deceased,
Any person who for the whole of the two years prior to the death of the deceased was living in the same household as the deceased as the husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased.
Even eligibility to make a claim can be technical and often requires professional advice.
IF you are eligible to make a claim, there are differing standards that will be applied by the Court in accordance with the 1975 Act. The spouse or civil partner of the deceased is entitled to claim on the basis that the Will or intestacy does not make reasonable financial provision for them – their claim is not limited to maintenance. Every other claimant claims on the basis that the Will or intestacy of the deceased does not make reasonable financial provision for their maintenance. There are therefore two standards “The spousal/civil partner standard” which is more generous; and the standard for all other applicants which is for maintenance only.
These are technical areas on which you ought to seek legal advice. You should seek legal advice as to your eligibility to claim or if you are a beneficiary on the claimant’s eligibility to claim as soon as possible.
This short note is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. Members of our civil team are always happy to provide advice as to whether you (or the claimant) are eligible to make a claim under the 1975 Act.